This Writing Life

My enjoyment of the biography/art book of the cartoonist was flustered by my recognition of the cartoonist being quoted by the author as saying things which I had reported the cartoonist saying to me either in a profile I had written of or an interview I had conducted with him several years later. I did not ignore the possibility that the cartoonist said the same things to anyone who profiled or interviewed him, but by the time I was three-quarters of the way through the book and had bumped into the fourth quote I recognized, this had been a matter of some concern.

The narrative portion of the book was constructed largely from direct quotations from the cartoonist or his friends. These were largely colorful and intelligent and humorous, but the text rarely identified to whom these remarks had been made and none were foot- or end- noted, so it was impossible to tell when or to whom they had been made. I assumed most had been said to the author, but still… So I e-mailed the author, whom I knew, and the publisher, whom I knew even better. The author did not reply. The publisher said I must have missed the attributions which appeared on p. 223.

Indeed, I had. For this I apologized. But these attributions (There were seven, of which three were mine, basically said that in Chapter Such-and-such “some quotations” came from my interview of the cartoonist. This was not as specific as I would have liked, but maybe I was coming out ahead since readers were free to believe more of the quotations were mine than were actually the case.

But no acknowledgment had been made of my profile from which at least one quotation also seemed to have been taken. So I pointed this out. This time neither the author nor the publisher responded.

Maybe I being too sensitive.